My favorite story I tell a man when I really start to like him, and I want him to know that I like him, is the story of my childhood sweetheart. A young boy who delivered newspapers. The Lafayette Journal and Courier. I would be sure to tell him the name of the paper. I would really set this up. I’d say, “I grew up in Indiana, I told you that before, haven’t I?”
Where I’m from is very important.
He would usually say yes, or maybe sometimes shake his head, no no. “Oh, okay, well I was from a small town. And I would read out on the porch swing every day in the summer. I was an avid fan of mystery novels. It didn’t matter what kind. But I would ride my red bicycle to the library and back with all these good mystery novels in my bag and just plop myself right back on down where I had been.”
and I would go on with all that. Being as quaint and folksy as I could be. This was how I usually was, when telling these stories. These were the stories I kept company. Stories about jumping off the barn roof. Of bare feet and riding lawn mowers. Of watching my father falling out of the tree with a chainsaw, trying to make room for the above-ground pool. These were my stories.
“Well, every day, as I would sit there reading, the paperboy would throw The Lafyette right on to the porch steps. I would pick it up, and sometimes I would wave, and sometimes I wouldn’t.”
It hardly mattered.
“but one day he came up on the porch and he asked me what I was reading. His black rusted single speed bicycle thrown to the side, no kick stand.
His eyes were blue, like two hatching robin’s eggs. His hair was brown, like a peach pit in the sun. Everything about him was like something else, and I showed him the book, and he kissed me.”
and that would be it. The story of my first love. I had more stories about this boy. And the guy I was into would get to learn his name. About his mother, the smoker whose wrinkles mesmerized me, birthing him at thirty.
How he smelled the night I lost him in the corn field, and sat crying, begging God to let me see him one last time. One last time.
But, that, too, hardly mattered.
It is true, that sometimes, crying is only for crying’s sake. And I told all the boys that part too. To let them know there was more. That I had more to me since this boy, and that they were just like this boy, delivering papers to my doorstep, asking me questions. Losing me. Finding me.